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    Wednesday, February 21, 2024

    Everything you need to know as student loan payments resume

    A tassel with 2023 on it rests on a graduation cap as students walk in a procession for Howard University's commencement in Washington, Saturday, May 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

    It's finally here. October marks the resumption of federal student loan payments for tens of millions of people who have benefited from a pandemic-induced pause for more than three years. A lot has changed during that time, including the addition of a new repayment plan and the exit of a few student loan servicing companies.

    To make sure borrowers are armed with all of the information they need during this time, we've compiled information to help ease the transition.

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    A new repayment plan could SAVE you money

    President Joe Biden's new income-driven repayment plan - Saving on a Valuable Education plan, commonly known as SAVE - ties monthly payments to earnings and family size. A typical borrower could save $1,000 a year on payments, according to the White House, because the plan reduces the amount of income used to calculate monthly bills.

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    Have your financial circumstances changed since 2020?

    The median length of time it takes to pay off a federal student loan is 15 1/2 years, and your options for repayment may change as you hit such certain milestones as having a child or getting a new job. Our tool helps explain those options.

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    Your student loan servicer may not be the same

    During the payment pause, several servicers, including Navient and Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance, bowed out of their federal contracts and transferred accounts to other companies. That means the servicer you had at the beginning of the pandemic may not be the same one handling your loans now. You can also identify your servicer by contacting the Federal Student Aid Information Center.

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    Loan forgiveness may still be an option, for some

    While the Supreme Court struck down Biden's plan to cancel up to $20,000 in debt for many borrowers, there are a host of other programs that may forgive loans for certain borrowers. The federal government, states and the private sector have programs that will erase some, if not all, education debt held by borrowers based on where they work and for how long.

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    Can't pay your loans now?

    The administration is offering a 12-month grace period in which any missed loan payments won't be reported to the credit agencies, although interest will continue to accrue on the debt. Delaying payments could be a viable option for people facing distress, but enrollment in the new income-driven plan could also be a good way to manage payments.

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    Could a government shutdown affect my payments?

    Even if the government shuts down, you will still have to make payments on your loans and interest will continue to accrue, according to the Education Department. Because the department pays its student loan servicers with money appropriated by Congress, a prolonged shutdown lasting more than a few weeks could substantially disrupt customer service.

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